Yosemite, 2017

Yosemite

Jan 27-30, 2017

 

It’s incredible what can be fit into one weekend!  4 days and a week’s worth of fun with strings of memorable moments more densely packed together bejeweling each refreshingly new day.  8 of us from the Sierra Club, WTC training headed back up to Yosemite for some fun in the masses of snow that have been falling this wonderful winter in our California Mountains.  Most of us were up there a few month’s ago with the place drying out, parched and looking on the verge of death having survived fires and severe drought the past years.  That trip was hiking, with climax to the summit of Half Dome (“da half dome”).   This trip is for frolicking in the thick layer of sparkly white stuff and enjoying the waterfalls gracefully cascading loads of wonderful water down the granite massifs, often freezing on the way down, then sheering off in a dramatic drop to the valley floor, the sound reverberating throughout the valley making everyone turn heads in awe.

 

Chains were required for most vehicles causing many stoppages along the main road as folks don’t realize the road is a main hwy and holding things up isn’t allowed in the middle of the road.  All are patient, mostly, however we were sure “Darwin” was at work thinning out the population.  Driving the road was like being in a giant mouse maze with walls over 10′ in many places blocking views and making navigation a challenge down narrow winding paths.  The hwy is very well maintained, but the side roads are a bit lower on the priority scale and end up with some very tight passages leaving unwanted dings in cars, yikes!

Yosemite Cabin

Driving in, the trees were covered in thick snow and our darling cottage was topped with about a 3′ blanket of snow with icicles nearly 5′ handing from the eves.  The drive was slick and icy making parking the 2 vehicles and bit tricky, that’s where Mark’s fun-bus got an unfortunate dent in the side.  Lots of slipping and sliding by us all tramping up and down to and from the cabin, but as of Sunday evening, no falls or injuries from that.  Most of us learned to slip on our Yaks or Microspikes for the short journey and length of icy decking leading to the front door.

 

The cabin itself was a lovely A-frame, warm and wood paneled inside.  Most of us shared a bed with another and one was on an airo-bed, but there was room for us all with an open concept and large pool table to keep us all together and social.  Food was prevalent as we all brought goodies for each meal and added much to the general supplies of both food and “liquids.”  Jim made chocolate chip cookies, Vickie brought lots of cheese varieties left over from a baby shower, some of us brought things like hummus, veggies, chips and chocolate, oh and a waffle maker for morning waffles… Yummy!  The best part is that we all enjoyed very active days to work it all off with much laughter throughout.  We kept wishing Paul and Elizabeth were there too.

 

Saturday, we headed to Badger Pass where we rented cross-country skis and tried our hands and wobbly legs on the lovely groomed trails.  We meandered through the snowy landscape and perfect meadows that seemed to be puffed up like soft white pillows then sprinkled in diamond dust.  The scenery was picture perfect, like walking through a December page of a Natural Wonders Calendar photo.  A few turned back early as the activity wasn’t suited to their physical limitations, others went out for a nice venture of a few hours.  I carried onward gliding down a really long gentle hill to catch up with Jim and Doug, who were keen to check out a side trail.  I didn’t feel experienced enough to join them, but did get a good workout and fun time as I turned back to climb back up that long track heading back to the resort to meet up with the others.  Jim and Doug only went a short ways, then turned around too, joining up with everyone back at the ski resort.

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We all were pretty hungry by the time we arrived back at the cabin close to 2pm, so we laid out a lovely spread of munchies and filled our bodies to the brim as we reminisced about the morning’s fun and sorted through photos.  We then hopped into Mark’s fun-bus and headed down the mountain toward Yosemite Valley for an afternoon of play.  Just after the tunnel is a fabulous pull-out with a view of the valley that is worthy of Ansel Adam’s photography.  A few months ago, it was mostly brown with trees dying in droves affected by the drought and bark beetle.  Water falls were bone dry and roadsigns were visible.  The scene is so different now and so stunning.  The tunnel itself looked like the Abdominal Snowman’s cave with icicles handing around the entrance like spiky teeth.  Ice formations were like crystal sculptures unique to anything else I’d seen and of course the valley view was covered in a blanket of white.  It’s easy to see how Ansel was so inspired by this place… John Muir too, of course.

 

Driving through the valley was stunning, with meadows inviting folks to get out and frolic, making snow angels, big wonderful snow people and even an intrepid few who were paddling down the cold River on standup paddle boards.  Carlos had fun posing us all for a variety of photos and we all enjoyed the fluffy ground cover making snow balls to throw and laugh and giggle at one another, including the very delayed moments when Mark and Jim finally picked up on the main reason for that stop… It’s at the base of Yosemite Falls!  It wasn’t until we were walking back to the car that they even noticed the fall…hilarious!  Meadows further up toward Curry/Half Dome Village were smothered in a thick eerie toolie-fog that contrasted rather spectacularly with the granite background lit up in a fiery gold from the setting sun.  We never found the ice rink and decided to opt out of having drinks by the giant fireplace at the Magistic/Awani Lodge, as it was getting on in the day and we had dinner to make and and evening to enjoy back at the cabin back up the hill.  We were rewarded with a truly magical view of “da Half Dome” glowing in the setting sun turning from golden to pink, then finally purple-grey.

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Driving through the Valley I can’t help but be grateful for Mr. Muir and his incredible passion for this place.  I look at the forest and wonder what it might have looked like with trees far bigger than the ones there now that were cut down in the logging hay day that brought western folks there in the first place.

 

So inspired, we all watched “Mile Mile and a Half” that evening reflecting on the many locations along the way that many of this group have visited on some level or another.  Vicky and Carlos seemed most familiar with the sections of the JMT route.

 

The day was so filled with fun and memories, it was like we packed 3 days into one…and tomorrow is another day.

 

Sunday was our snowshoeing day, an activity that seemed far easier technically to us all as something we all are familiar with enjoying.  By the morning’s dawn, nearly all the snow had fallen from the trees around the cabin and was falling like mini squalls around the trails making soft “poof” sounds in the sparkling snow.  Mark was happy not to be falling like the snow from the trees every few minutes as he did yesterday.  We walked up the way we did the day before from the rental location, then at Summit Meadow, we turned off toward Dewey Point for a 10-mile total round trip through a diamond bedazzled winter wonderland, with trees sparkling with crystals and meadows few had traveled through.  Of course, we stopped for loads of photos choreographed by Carlos along the way.  It was quite a trip with lovely rolling hills through the forest before finally being completely awed by the views on this perfectly sunny day looking out from the edge of a cliff across from El Capitan looking up over the entire Yosemite Valley and mountains beyond.

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A pair of Ravens were thoroughly enjoying themselves playing in the up-welling breezes off the cliffs and swooping in close to the human visitors to show off and perhaps pick up a dropped food item.  They were so shinny black and a darling couple who really seemed to enjoy playing in one another’s company.

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Most of us were pretty knackered by the time we arrived back at the lodge, but in a good way.  Feeling ready for some down-time and a kitchen full of munchies back at the cabin.  A cold beer tasted lovely and a good shower added all the more to the delight.

 

Vicky and Shanie headed back out to make snow heads outside the cabin complete with glasses, a champagne bottle and happy faces made with various veggies from the kitchen.  Carlos worked to find the right channel on the Teli, so he could watch the Miss Universe Pageant that evening… He was so excited to see it for the fashions and critique of pretty women.  What a character, we all enjoyed partaking in Carlo’s excitement, even if most of us only watched a small portion of the program.  Jim, Vickie and I stayed retired to our room to chit chat away from the TV noise with great conversations about adventures past and future.

 

Our final day, Monday, was all about cleaning up, packing up and heading out, but all with smiles on our faces after the fun we all shared together.  We stopped in at the Sports-Mobil facility in Fresno on the way up and back that outfits vans as two members of this group are looking for a small utility vehicle for regular get-always.  Much was learned and some rather clever custom ideas were gathered.

 

From there, it was just about getting home so we could get our heads redirected toward the week ahead, but keeping in mind the fun we shared and the adventures that await marked happily in our calendars.

Categories: North America

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